Tag Archive for Jay Bruce

I’m A Loser, Baby

As been pointed out below, Chris Beck has joined the Mets and is wearing No. 61. I happened to have been listening on radio when Josh Lewin described it as having been the previous jersey of Jack Egbert, whom I have argued might go down as the most obscure Met ever. Both Egbert and Beck came from the White Sox organizations. Most recently 61 belonged the Kevin McGowan, who has been getting knocked around the Las Vegas bullpen.

Speaking of the Las Vegas bullpen, anyone stay up to see Jason Vargas pitch last night?

In the meantime, MBTN favorite Ty Kelly was sent back to Vegas before appearing in the 66 jersey he was issued; Jay Bruce hit the disabled list; Tim Peterson was recalled and AJ Ramos is headed for season-ending shoulder surgery.

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Triple Play

So the time has come to move on from Adrian Gonzalez, who more or less did what was expected of him, providing the Mets with evidence of a long but steadily declining career while giving prospects like Dominic Smith and Peter Alonso a little more time to bake in the oven. I said it before the Mets would be lucky if either of those prospects crafts a career nearly as good as the one Gonzalez had, and if weren’t for the fact that Yoenis Cespedes will be missing even more time than expected we might be seeing Jay Bruce as the new first baseman beginning tonight.

Instead Dom Smith gets a new chance and hopefully he runs with the opportunity this time. You may remember Dom as having worn No. 22 last year and very briefly this year.

Coming up along with him is the switch-hitting utility player Ty Kelly, whom I like and have advocated for previously. Sure he’s not not exactly lighting the world on fire in Vegas, and he won’t up here, but he’s understanding of his role and oozes with regular-guy appeal that I want to think will help light up a morose clubhouse where there’s a failure virus infecting half the lineup.

What number will Ty wear? The Mets haven’t said. He’s previously worn 55, 56 then 55 again and upon his return to the organization this spring was issued No. 11 — a designation I’d argued for in the past. The Mets in the meantime issued 11 to Jose Bautista. He’s sort of out of uniform himself, preferring No. 19.

So here’s my suggestion. Let’s get Jay Bruce out his slump, Jose Bautista back in familiar clothing and Ty Kelly into his preferred No. 11 with a three-way trade putting Kelly in 11, and Bautista in 19 while Bruce moves to occupy the No. 23 left behind by Gonzalez. For Bruce it could mix up the mojo while also reflecting a spin on the 32 he wore previously with the Reds.

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Meet the Mess

I don’t have anything profound or interesting to say about the trainwrecking Mets, their putrid play, their washed-up struggling veterans, their suddenly ineffective manager, their underperforming bullpen, the developing war between the front office and their slow-healing superstar or the appropriate fire in the CitiField lobby, but I can get you caught up with the parade of stiffs help making it all happen after missing a week to a biz trip and other calamities.

Joey Bautista, who passed through on paper during another disaster of a season 14 years ago before collecting 300+ home runs for other teams so the Mets could finish 25 games back with Kris Benson, has come back on — you guessed it — a cheapo deal and is now hitting 3rd in our order and wearing No. 11. I’m with Richard who suggested below that Jay Bruce ought to give Joey Bats his customary No. 19. Jay can try and negotiate with Steven Matz for 32, or just, you know, wear a blank jersey because that would match his contributions so far this year. Get it together, Jay.

The banged-up relief corps has added and subtracted a bunch of stiffs, some of whom we’ve seen before and some whom we may hopefully never see again.

They include: Scott Copeland (who?) who wore 62; and Tim Peterson, given 63; and Chris Flexen, 64. Could Kevin McGowan be far behind? Regardless this past week marks the first time the Mets have suited guys in Nos. 62-65 in the same season, which tells you something. Gerson Bautista whose surrendered home run to Javier Baez will land shortly, I’m told is back in 46, as is Buddy Baumann whose sidewinding, stirrups and No. 77 would all work better were he capable of having a single good outing, but we’re still waiting.

On the injury front we’ve lost Noah Syndergaard and Wilmer Flores, two guys who have been something less than best selves so far but so still better than the ones replacing them. Steven Matz is having his usual scares. Kevin Plawecki came back in time to address the dearth of right-handed bats and lose last night’s game hacking at the first pitch against a gassed tomato can having the night of his life. Phillip Evans and Tomas Nido both came and went again. Hansel Robles and Jose Lobaton — there’s a late-inning battery to inspire, huh? — came back.

Can anyone here play this game?

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Of Order Out

Another disgraceful showing by the Mets on Wednesday in Cincinnati where Mickey Callaway blew what once looked like an opportunity to earn Manager of the Year honors, while the offense even without the handicap of giving away a first-inning rally on a careless batting-out-of-order penalty wasted a rare decently pitched game by Zack Wheeler and lost to the lowly Reds 2-1 in 10 innings.

It goes without saying this rotten stretch by the Mets needs to stop immediately but if there’s a catalyst out there I’ll be damned if I can find it. Yoenis Cespedes is playing with his customary quad troubles, Todd Frazier’s on the disabled list and Jay Bruce is off to Texas on a weekend paternity leave. We’re not going to miss Hansel Robles who’s having a knee problem checked out, deGrom’s still a question mark, Conforto is still slumping, Amed Rosario isn’t exactly making a case to stay at shortstop and the addition by trade of Devin Mesorasco so far is a very-small-sample-but-hugely-symbolic bust. The guy caught Reds pitching for years but can’t hit it. What happens when he faces a real team?

It’s not like the cavalry has come to the rescue. Instead it’s Luis Guillorme, a wizardly fielder who is prepping to make his MLB debut wearing No. 15. We’re investigating whether he was actually assigned No. 14 but inadvertently given the wrong jersey by the manager.

And they want us to pay attention?

 

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Yo Adrian

Reports indicate the Mets are close to signing veteran first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who presumably could provide a safety net in the event Dominic Smith can’t handle a regular job as the first baseman.

That would obliterate my argument below that Jay Bruce was inked to be the first baseman and at worst, Gonzalez could be the veteran left-handed pinch-hitter we’d need anyway. Gonzo is a lifetime .288/.359/.488 hitter — I’d sign on if Smith could put up that line — but he’s also 35 years old and coming off a year interrupted by a back injury and the sudden emergence of Cody Bellinger in Los Angeles. The Dodgers traded him away in a salary dump to Atlanta earlier this offseason and the Braves subsequently released him, allowing the Mets to pick him up with hardly any impact to their precious salary structure so there’s little cause to be alarmed.

Gonzalez has worn No. 23 for 10 of his 14 years in the big leagues, and would presumably inherit the No. 23 jersey last worn by bench coach Dick Scott, who was not renewed after last season. A proud Mexican-American, Gonzalez made headlines last season when he refused to stay in a certain Chicago hotel while the Dodgers were visiting the Windy City.

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Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown

Jay Bruce wasn’t gone long enough to even reissue his number 19, but speculation as to his uni is the least of my questions this morning.

It seems more than possible that given the shaky defense as constructed and a potentially crowded outfield again the Mets signed Bruce to a three-year contract not to patrol right field but to play first base, and that their extra outfielder (Nimmo or Lagares); and Dominic Smith, the young first baseman with a tenuous hold on his job, could be their on their ways out. I’m just making this up, but could two of them go in a trade for someone else’s center fielder? That would seem to make sense from a number of angles, and if that center fielder in question happens to be Andrew McCutcheon, well that’s convenient too in that he and Smith both rock No. 22.

I’m as excited as the next guy about feeding the big-league club with our own seedlings but Major League first basemen are especially hard things to develop in captivity. Maybe it’s been done before but you wouldn’t want to bet on a first baseman who may or may not be capable of contributing at the big-league level and also compete — just think about how long it took Lucas Duda to establish himself, and even then…

The other question the Mets need to ask themselves is if Smith works out, how good can he be? There’s little doubt the guy is capable of good on-base percentage and line drive hitting — there are worse skills to have and I’m not suggesting the Mets couldn’t use that — but if it all adds up to a career like James Loney and not like, say, Joey Votto, is it worth the investment? We’re more assured to have another young guy in the lineup everyday in Rosario anyway, and if we manage to hang onto Brandon Nimmo, we’ll get the seeming skill set of Smith anyhow.

 

If Sandy Alderson is thinking along with me, he just signed his regular first baseman and will very shortly be sending Smith to Pittsburgh in a Uni Swap. Perhaps Nimmo or (my preference) Lagares go along with him, but one of those two also gets moved shortly, if not in a Pirates deal to a loser in the Lorenzo Cain sweepstakes.

Oh, and welcome back, Jay. Thoughts?

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New World Order

Hey guys, I’m back from a lengthy vacation where among other things I was there to witness Amed Rosario’s doomed first game as a Met at Coors Field but missed a ton of other stuff so here’s the happy(?) recap of a busy few weeks.

Chris Flexen is wearing 64 and is in the starting rotation. Flexen was recalled in late July from Class AA where he’d been pitching quite well. Flexy is the fourth guy to wear 64 for the Mets. In keeping with current tradition he was simply reissued the same number he wore in Spring Training. I used to think that if guys proved themselves in this role they might get more dignified numbers down the road, but Seth Lugo says no.

Flexen the other day was opposed by Texas’ AJ Griffin, promoting a question I never thought would be asked:

I don’t know the answer offhand!

Lucas Duda, Addison Reed, Jay Bruce and Neil Walker have been traded away. I liked Duda quite a lot and would say that if his newly recalled replacement could accomplish all he has (let’s say, lead his number in all-time home runs) we’ll be fortunate. As for Reed and Bruce, easy come easy go.

On the other hand, daring Neil Walker to take a $17 million qualifying offer to remain a Met in 2017 ought to go down as one of Sandy Alderson’s bigger goofs as it was clear even last year Walker was no $17 million player, there were already plenty of potential second basemen in the organization, and I suspect that paycheck became a obstacle to having done more with the 2017 roster. As it is we’ve got to pay Milwaukee to take him. That said Walker was a pro, whose terrific start in 2016 was you know, something. Like Bruce’s 2017. It was announced just after I published that the Mets have recalled Las Vegas reliever Kevin McGowan to take Walker’s roster spot: He’ll wear No. 61.

In the midst of all this getting-rid-ofs, Alderson also did an clever thing in acquiring closer AJ Ramos of Florida. I have no idea whether Ramos is actually good but his acquisition helped the Mets move Reed without completely destroying themselves, gave themselves another affordable option for next year, and may have made Reed relatively more valuable by reducing the Proven Closer inventory. Ramos was a 44 in Florida but is wearing 40 as a Met. Braden Looper notched 57 saves wearing that number.

Who knows if any of the dudes we received in exchange for these surrendered pieces amount to anything but they seem to consist nearly entirely of hard-throwing bullpen wannabees. This reminds me of the 2003 selloff when Jeromy Burnitz, Armando Benitez, Roberto Alomar, Rey Sanchez, Graeme Lloyd and probably others I can no longer remember were sent packing, mostly for relief pitchers, none of whom ever really worked out.

And like 2003, we did so anticipating a brighter future on the strength of recent (and anticipated) callups. As mentioned Amed Rosario debuted in Denver, and this weekend first baseman Dominic Smith arrived, in 1 and 22, respectively, the numbers they had in Las Vegas. Whether these guys turn out to be the new Reyes-and-Wright remains to be seen but welcome aboard. Rosario is the 31st different player to don No. 1, which has basically been held under reserve for him for a few years even if Justin Ruggiano was seen wearing it last. Smith has two World Series MVPs as his precessors in 22; and the home-run king is Kevin McReynolds with 122.

Smith’s promotion coincided with coach Tom Goodwin’s switch to No. 88: He’s the first Met to have ever won that. Oh, and it resulted in the long-deserved designation of Fernando Salas who always seemed to be a dead-cat bounce and might not have been counted on so heavily had we not fattened up on Neil Walker salary.

Thanks again to the commenters here and on Twitter who kept the conversation going in my absence! LGM

 

 

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Tic Tac Toe

During Sunday’s victory over the Braves, an unusual and perceptive notice popped up in my feed. In the bottom of the first inning, Jay Bruce reached on an error, Neil Walker singled and Lucas Duda followed with a base-on-balls, setting up the following bases-loaded situation as described here by TJ:

Not to speak for Elias Sports, but I’d bet it is. I’ve played around a little bit trying to determine whether the Mets ever had an all-ascending uni number starting lineup (haven’t found one yet) and I can recall lots of notable sequential teammates but this question never occurred to me and figuring out would be a task, which is why I’m opening it up to you guys out there.

My first thought on this matter was the possibility of the 16-17-18 combo of Gooden on third, Hernandez on second and Strawberry on first, which had lots of opportunity to happen. Their teammates on the ’86 champs Wally Backman, Kevin Mitchell and Gary Carter, had a whole season of opportunity to pull this one off too, but also hard to envision a scenario where Backman stops at third. Foster-Gooden-Hernanez 15-17 would be a less likely scenario but I don’t want to rule it out yet.

Looking further into the likely possibilities would also require an examination of the 1969 World Champs, who had Agee, Jones and Clendenon stacked up 20-22 (Tim Foli, No. 19 in 1970-71, could be another engine in this train). Back when numbers were lower and retirements fewer we can envision scenarios of Ashburn on first, Throneberry at second and Bouchee or Harkness on 3rd, but I got no idea.

Anyone brave enough to dive into this please speak up!

Following is my list of notable Mets teammates wearing consecutive numbers, though by no means an exhaustive list of all possibilities over the years:

6 numbers:
1986: Foster 15, Gooden 16, Hernandez 17, Strawberry 18, Ojeda 19, Johnson 20
1987–88: Aguilera 15, Gooden 16, Hernandez 17, Strawberry 18, Ojeda 19, Johnson 20
1989: Darling 15, Gooden 16, Hernandez 17, Strawberry 18, Ojeda 19, Johnson 20

5 numbers:
1989: Gooden 16, Hernandez 17, Strawberry 18, Ojeda 19, Johnson 20

3 numbers:
1968–71: Seaver 41, Taylor 42, McAndrew 43
1969–71: Agee 20, Jones 21, Clendenon 22
1975–77: Kingman 26, Swan 27, Milner 28
1986: Backman 6, Mitchell 7, Carter 8
1992: Gooden 16, Cone 17, Saberhagen 18
2015-17: Matz 32, Harvey 33, Syndergaard 34
2016-17: Bruce 19, Walker 20, Duda 21

*

 

Goodbye and good luck to Ty Kelly, the reserve we were discussing below, and who was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays yesterday. This Ty was no Cobb, but I liked having on the team.

 

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When there’s nothing to speculate about, speculate

Around here, this time of year often inspires lots of speculation about inbound freight and what to outfit them in, but it was pointed out to me yesterday that other than the 40-man additions noted below, and the re-signing of three of our own free agents (Neil Walker, Rene Rivera, Yoenis Cespedes), there has been a grand total of zero new names on the sacred scrolls since September.

53Well, one new guy if you count incoming third-base/catching coach Glenn Sherlock, who will replace Tim Teufel in an act of mercy. Sherlock by the way wore No. 53 in a similar role with the Diamondbacks, so he feels more like a real coach and less of guy whose main qualification for the role was a job with the Mets in 1986.

Players? There’s been none. No journeyman catchers with spring training invites, no Rule 5 picks, no lefthanded relief pitchers, no veteran bats on make-good comeback contracts, and of course, no Winter-Meeting-Three-Team-Twelve-Player Blockbusters (WMTT12PBs), which on a chilly December morning like this would warm old the hot stove. In the meantime we’ve seen a few Mets go away: Bartolo Colon, Logan Verrett (we’ll never forget how few craps he gave taking No. 35 still warm from Dillon Gee), and Johnny Monell.

Obviously this will change if and when the Mets get around to addressing the Jay Bruce Question; for now I’m pleased that the team hasn’t given him away for nothing and I’m dubious in general that any relief pitcher ought to be fair value for a flawed but legitimate power bat like Bruce.

19And just maybe, they’re holding out on a secret WMTT12PB. Perhaps Bruce can find a home again — in Cincinnati. Trade him, Lucas Duda and Steven Matz for Joey Votto and a reliever? Votto’s the kind of Olerud/Hernandez type bat this club could really use, David Wright can’t be counted on being anymore, and guys like Conforto and Nimmo might not get the chance to be.

Otherwise, we’re a adequately situated and familiar club that will require a lot to go right again in 2017.

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Bye Bye Bart

40As you know by now, Bartolo Colon has signed a 2017 contract with the Braves, where he’ll join fellow new arrival R.A. Dickey as a veteran dynamic duo we may well encounter when the Mets open the 2017 season against Atlanta in April.

Colon can’t be blamed for seeking a regular starting gig as he pursues a few personal milestones: He needs 10 wins to catch Juan Marichal for the all-time lead among Dominican pitchers, and 12 to surpass Dennis Martinez and become the winningest Latin American pitcher of all-time. I speak for all Mets fans wishing him the best of luck most nights, anyway.

I had no idea what to expect of Colon when he arrived as a 40-year-old ostensibly to hold Matt Harvey’s place in the rotation in 2014, and would not have predicted he’d depart three years later having set the all-time mark for wins (44) and strikeouts (415) among guys who wore No. 40 (Pat Zachry was the prior king and still leads this club in losses). Colon was a surprising guy all around, obviously a better athlete than he looked to be and a fun presence who really helped the Mets especially this last year. We’ll miss him!

20That’s the first significant departure of what’s looking to be an interesting offseason for the Mets. At the moment I cannot picture a scenario that doesn’t involve a significant trade or two. Briefly I’m sort of rooting against a return engagement for Neil Walker but can’t see how he’ll turn down that $17 million waiting for him, and if he takes it that’ll put a strain on the budget to re-engage Cespedes, so I suppose if the Mets want Walker they can do so with a compromise kind of multiyear deal, and just maybe, prepare him for a kind of caddy deal where his switch-hittingness becomes valuable for the bench while ushering in Gavin Cecchini who keeps on hitting.

While pursuit of a new deal for Cespedes could be hair raising it could be argued that the club already has the next-best available outfielder of a relatively weak class in Jay Bruce, and so I’m rooting for Sandy and the guys to make hay of this and surprise us.

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